J.J. Johnson Leese
Assistant Professor of Christian Scripture
Office: Alexander Hall
Education: MDiv, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1995; STM, Concordia Seminary, 2002; PhD, University of Durham, 2014. At SPU since 2012.
J.J. Johnson Leese joined SPU as an Instructor of Scripture in 2012. After completing her doctorate in 2014, she transitioned to Assistant Professor of Scripture in the School of Theology. Dr. Leese teaches undergraduate University Foundations courses in Christian Scripture and Christian Formation as well as upper level Theology and Seminary courses.
Dr. Johnson Leese's research interests focus on the New Testament documents with special attention given to the Pauline letters. Her dissertation research, published in 2018, focused on the implications of Paul’s “New Creation” theology, extending to how it may inform Christian ecological challenges facing the Church today. Her vocational passion is for teaching and guiding the spiritual and intellectual faith of young people, especially assisting them to draw connections between their Christian faith and ecological justice and practice. This focus informs her scholarship, teaching, and service, currently serving as a primary advisor to the newly established Ecotheology Minor. Dr. Leese’s broader scholarly interests include hermeneutics, New Testament origins and context, the Gospels, Second Temple Judaism, Greek language and exegesis, Women in the Bible, Eco-theological readings of the Bible, and biblical themes in contemporary film.
Prior to coming to Seattle Pacific University, J.J. was as an international educator teaching biblical and religious studies in India and Hong Kong for over ten years. Her teaching included introductory and advanced Biblical Studies courses, as well as, teaching Greek at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Sha Tin, Hong Kong. Her teaching extended outside of the classroom by leading service learning groups to multiple countries including India, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, China, and the Philippines. Because of the global commitments and diversity of students at SPU, J.J. regularly draws connections between her international and intercultural experiences with her teaching at SPU.
J.J.’s family heritage is within the Lutheran tradition. Although raised on a farm in Kansas, J.J. has strong connections with the Northwest and SPU, having married Bill Leese, an SPU alumnus (1983) whose family is located in Everett and the surrounding area. In addition to being a Christian educator, Bill currently serves on the SPU Alumnae Board and, as a fourth-generation commercial salmon fisherman, has recently returned to his “fishing nets” during the summer months in Alaska. J.J.’s rootedness in the soil and the sea inform her convictions for environmental stewardship. When not focused on studies and teaching, J.J. enjoys participation in the family fishing business, practicing neighborhood hospitality, exercise, and worshiping at Bethany Presbyterian Church. Bill and J.J. have three young-adult children.
Please view J.J. Johnson Leese's CV (PDF) for additional publications.
Christ, Creation, and the Cosmic Goal of Redemption
T&T Clark, 2018
J. J. Johnson Leese discusses how the apostle Paul's writing on Christ's relationship to creation, read alongside the interpretations of Irenaeus of Lyon, provide a meaningful contribution to contemporary debates on the interrelationship between religion and nature.